There were only six members in the club that kick started the European adventure. They wanted to build a peaceful and prosperous zone together. From 1957 to 1995 nine more countries joined, and the enlargement of the European Union hasn't stopped there!
Hello! Welcome to Eureka. 1957 to 2007 - 50 years of history. 50 years of building Europe. Today, there are 27 countries in the European Union. But creating this zone of peace and freedom didn't happen overnight. In 1957 France, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg set up the European Economic Community. These six nations wanted to maintain peace and build a strong union in Europe. Their aim was to open up the Community to other states. They created a common market to allow goods to move freely between states in the aim of boosting trade and their economies. The success of the six founding nations led three other countries to join. In 1973 Denmark, United Kingdom and Ireland joined the Community. The new members strengthened Europe's position as the world's leading economic power. The nine countries launched new policies in social and environmental affairs. In the late 1970s Greece, Spain and Portugal applied to join the Community. These countries were no longer under authoritarian rule. Negotiations with Greece made rapid progress. In 1981 Europe opened its doors to Greece. The Europe of 10 now had a Mediterranean member. Spain and Portugal had to wait a few more years before joining. because they were major producers of fruit, olive oil and wine. France and Italy delayed their entry because of competition fears. Spain and Portugal joined in 1986, extending the Community southwards. For the first time representatives from Spain and Portugal will take up their seats among us. In 1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden joined. The Europe of 15 decided to launch the euro project. In 2002, the euro replaced national currencies in 12 countries. This was a major achievement for Europe. But enlargement didn't stop there. From 1995 to 2007 the number of EU members rose from 15 to 27. This was the biggest enlargement in Europe's history with eight eastern European countries applying for membership in 1989 followed by two southern European states, but more on that next time.